Tennessee, Illinois bills target ‘super speeders’

| Thursday, April 22, 2010

A bill on the move in the Tennessee House would get tough with motorists who zoom along highways at excessive speeds. Illinois lawmakers have responded favorably to a similar effort.

The Tennessee House Transportation Committee voted Tuesday, April 20, to advance a bill that would increase maximum speeding penalties in the state. Currently, speeding fines are $50.

Modeled after a Georgia law that went into effect this year, fines of $200 would be tacked onto traffic tickets for “super speeders.” Penalties could be applied to those caught driving at least 85 mph on interstates and four-lane highways, or at least 75 mph on two-lane roads.

A legislative analysis estimates the bill would raise $3.76 million in annual fines. The revenue would be routed to hospital trauma centers.

Supporters say the current $50 fine for speeding is too low for the seriousness of the violation. Others say the stiffer penalties should help keep motorists mindful of their speeds. In return, it would help cut down on wrecks.

Opponents say the bill is more about raising money than about punishing super speeders.

The bill – HB2544 – is awaiting consideration in the House Finance Committee.

A similar effort in Illinois is rolling right along. A bill to get tough with excessive speeders has picked up speed since a Chicago Tribune report showed that Chicago-area courts have given a special probation to nearly two-thirds of speeders traveling at least 100 mph. The probation allows offenders to keep tickets off their driving records.

The House Vehicles and Safety Committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday, April 21, that would make it a Class B misdemeanor to speed 30 to 39 mph above the limit. It would also prohibit judges from issuing court supervision to anyone found guilty of driving at least 40 mph in excess of the speed limit.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White proposed the stricter punishment.

“Excessive speeders pose a greater risk to the public, and such reckless behavior does not merit court supervision,” White said in a statement.

The bill – SB3796 – has been forwarded to the House floor for consideration. If approved there, it would advance to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here. To view other legislative activities of interest for Tennessee, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.